Health experts writing in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) have argued that food labels should be changed so as to show the equivalent exercise needed to burn off the calories contained in the product. The chief executive of the Royal Society of Public Health, Shirley Cramer, has said that “innovative initiatives are needed” to “change behaviour” in order to combat the rise of obesity in the UK.
The new ‘activity equivalent’ labelling would be shown as a series of symbols that denote the minutes of several different physical activities that would be required to level out the number of calories consumed. For example, a can of fizzy drink takes a person of average age and weight around 26 minutes to walk off, whereas a blueberry muffin would take around 48 minutes.
According to the report, public polls suggest that 53% of people would actively change their behaviour as a result of the proposed label changes, with 44% saying that they find the current system of packaging information confusing.
As today marks World Health Day, which this year focuses on tackling diabetes, it is fitting that Cramer has implored law makers and industries to implement the changes in order to reduce obesity in the UK. “The objective is to prompt people to be more mindful of the energy they consume,” she explained, “and how these calories relate to activities in their everyday lives, and to encourage them to be more physically active.”
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Images from Royal Society of Public Health